Foreign authentications in Switzerland – To save costs in Switzerland?

In Germany, notary fees are prescribed by law and are generally based on the notarised value. In company law in particular, this may well lead to relatively high notary fees. In Switzerland, on the other hand, notary fees are freely negotiable – so it is quite possible to agree on much lower fees.


However, it has long been disputed whether and to what extent Swiss certifications are permitted in Germany. Notarisation by a foreign notary is always permissible if the foreign notary is equivalent to a German notary and the notarisation procedure corresponds to the German procedure. While the case law on marriage contracts and real estate contracts is very tolerant and affirms equivalence for many Swiss cantons, it has so far been extremely restrictive with regard to corporate law transactions such as formation, conversion or transfer of shares.


Can share transfers now be notarised in Switzerland?

Until the German Act to Modernise the Law on Private Limited Companies and Combat Abuses (MoMiG) came into force in 2008, transfers of shares certified in Zurich-Altstadt, Basel-Stadt and Zug were considered equivalent in consistent case law and thus permissible in Germany. With the introduction of MoMiG, however, legal obstacles were placed in the way of this practice. Since then, §40 II GmbHG in particular has laid down special requirements for share transfers. For this purpose, it is now mandatory to submit the new list of shareholders to the register court. In its decision of 17.12.2013, Ref.: 99 AR 9466/10, the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) decidedly rejected a blanket rejection of the equivalence of the submission by a foreign notary, but at the same time neither established general equivalence in the case of share transfers by Swiss notaries nor did it standardise concrete requirements for equivalence. Consequently, the assignment of shares in Switzerland was associated with great legal uncertainty.


What has changed following the decision of the Berlin Court of Appeal of 24.01.2018, Ref.: 22 W 25/16?


In that decision, the Kammergericht Berlin held that the establishment of a German GmbH by notarisation in Switzerland was permissible. The significance of this decision is grave. Up to now, it was assumed that at most transactions between two or more parties in need of notarisation could be notarised abroad, but certainly no transactions changing the organisation’s statute such as foundations or conversions. After all, such transactions have a much more far-reaching effect than changes in ownership. However, this decision now firmly contradicts the prevailing view and may even pave the way for the notarisation of mergers and restructurings in Switzerland. But beware: The equivalence of the GmbH foundation certified abroad was initially only established for the Canton of Bern.

We will keep you informed of developments in this respect. Wenn Sie Fragen haben, wenden Sie sich bitte an uns und lassen Sie sich von uns beraten.

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